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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the Ford Ranger Raptor SE

Right, let’s get one thing straight. I am not a bakkie fan. Well, not for suburb living that is. I appreciate a bakkie for what a bakkie is intended. The Ford Ranger Raptor should be not confined to the ‘burbs. I recently had the ultimate pleasure of experiencing the Raptor as it is intended to be experienced…on dirt, at speed!

WHAT IS THE SE VIBE?

This flagship offering from Ford, which is sold in limited numbers, now stands out even further in a crowd with styling tweaks that include an array of bold colours such as Conquer Grey, Frozen White, Performance Blue or Agate Black with twin matte black racing stripes – edged with red contrast lines – on the bonnet, roof, lower body sides, rear wings and tailgate. Added to that is red front tow hooks and matt black flared wheel arches, front and rear bumpers, door handles and signature Ford-embossed grille. Basically, it looks flipping mean! That is the only way to describe this vehicle. Especially when it reveals itself through a dust cloud on a dirt road, it’s like an animal. And I like it! Can you feel the shivers? Can ya?

How’s this shot? I did not take it, obviously. I was driving. Nope, that’s a lie.

I can never get away from the practical side of things completely, so I am thrilled to say that the Raptor SE boasts a lockable Mountain Top black roller shutter, which we’ve seen on the Ranger Thunder, that allows you to safely secure stuff in the load bay.

The cabin has also received a few additions such as red stitching for the steering wheel, seats and door cards which replaces the blue stitching used on the normal Ranger Raptor. And the instrument panel is now finished off in Raceway Grey.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE DRIVE

This is Ford’s highest-performing, toughest bakkie. These are Ford’s words. But I have to agree with this statement. There have been no mechanical upgrades to this Special Edition model, so it still sports the 2.0 bi-turbodiesel. It produces 157 kW and 500 Nm and is mated exclusively to a 10-speed automatic gearbox.

We took the Raptor SE up in to the Du Toitskloof mountains, and let me tell you, this was no soft 4×4 expedition, which many a manufacturer will take you on. Nope, this was proper! There were a few harrowing moments with very narrow paths and sharp rocks and trees jumping out at you (I didn’t hit a tree, you did!). But, we popped the Raptor in to low range and selected Rock Crawl mode and then pretty much let the car do all of the work. The only thing I really had to do was steer. The rear diff helped me out of a situation or two, not that I really needed the help, I am quite capable, obviously. But overall, this 4×4 stint really did show us what the Raptor is truly capable of. It also showed me that after two or so hours of bumping and grinding up the side of a mountain, I am actually able to keep my food down.

HEADING TO TANKWA

Another confession. I f****ing hate the Karoo! I know there are those of you who will never forgive me for saying it, but I don’t care. I need green. I need water. I need less of the nothingness. One could call me agoraphobic. The vastness terrifies me. It also terrifies me when a cat-sized gecko that I thought was an ornament in my room, moves! But back to the Raptor SE. We got to drive it on the longest dirt road in South Africa and what an experience that was. I was hurtling down that dirt road at a speed of about 160 km/h (sometimes faster). Mainly because I was bursting for a wee and there is no stopping to go behind a tree or a bush…because there aren’t any the Karoo!

What I can tell you, however, is that this vehicle is more than composed travelling at speed on- or off-road. It might not be as quick as you want it to be, but it is certainly smooth sailing. This in thanks to the FOX Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers, which were exclusively developed for this model. The ride is comfortable, which is a blessing when your bladder feels like it is about to burst! And there is nothing quite like seeing an enormous cobra cross your path and try maintain some form of composure. Just another reason I hate the Karoo. Snakes!

Ford Ranger Raptor SE
Me trying to get to the toilet!

My parents have gone to Afrikaburn a few times (that’s a story for another day) and always tell me about the horrific road leading in to it. The amount of tyres that are damaged. But, the tyres on the Raptors (all of them) didn’t even blink an eye at this road.

This Raptor SE sits at R40 000 more than the standard Raptor. I wouldn’t be bothered with the extra styling cues here and there. It’s not worth the money for me. Because, in the standard Raptor you get everything you need from this bakkie. And that is an incredible all-rounder. It is as composed off-road as it is on-road. It boasts almost SUV-like comfort and quite frankly, is one of the best bakkies I’ve driven. It made the Karoo almost bearable, and that says everything!

PRICING OF THE RANGER RAPTOR SE

  • The Ranger Raptor Special Edition: R965 300
  • The standard Raptor Ranger: R920 300.

The Raptor SE comes standard with a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is also standard.

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